James 1, 12 – 16
Today's contributor is Nicholas King, a Jesuit priest, scholar and author who teaches the New Testament at Oxford University. For the Bible passages, he used NRSV for the Old Testment and his own translation for the New Testament readings. To read passages from the King James Version, click here.
Something to read
The person who puts up with temptation is to be congratulated, because that person will become tried and tested, and will receive the Gold Medal of Life, which [God] has promised to those who love him.
When you get tempted, you shouldn't say, 'It is from God that I am getting tempted.' You see, God can't be tempted to do evil, and does not tempt anybody. Each of us is tempted, dragged away and enticed, by our own desires. Then desire becomes pregnant, and brings forth its child: Sin. And Sin, when comes to the end of its course, brings forth its child: Death.
Something to think about
Today's reading about temptation is intended to encourage us to face any of the temptations that may have become clear to us during this first week of Lent.
James is quite clear that all of us get tempted, and that it is quite a good thing, because temptation actually leads us to work out who we really are, and where we want to go.
That does not mean, however, that we can blame our temptations on God; God does not operate like that; so temptations come from our own bad desires to which we so easily give in; and we will do anything, including blaming God, rather than face the truth about what we have done: it is always someone else's fault.
So James sketches out the consequences of our giving in, and he uses the metaphor of giving birth: our bad desires give birth to Sin, and Sin gives birth to Death. Like Paul, James sees Sin and Death as hostile powers that seek to destroy us; but they can only get a toe-hold in our existence if we let them.
Something to do
Sin and Death are evil powers, opposed to God. Look around the world you live in, and see where those evil powers are at work. Is there anything that you can do about resisting them where you live? Now look at your own life: is there anything, at home or at work, any temptation towards bringing Sin and Death into your world, to which you regularly give in? What will you do about resisting such temptations, today?
Something to pray
God our Father, we ask you to forgive us when we blame you for the temptations that beset us; we ask you, with your accustomed gentleness and humour, to lead us to fulfil our deepest desires, and so build your Kingdom. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.